Brain and spinal cord tumors affect nearly 2,000 children in the U.S. every year. They can occur in children at any age, but are most often diagnosed at age 10 or younger. The Vanderbilt Pediatric Brain Tumor Program is designed for young patients and their families.
Brain tumors in children are rare. This makes it very important for families to seek care at a place like Children's Hospital. Our dedicated team, which includes pediatric neurosurgeons, neuro-oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and nutritionists, are experts in this form of cancer.
The Pediatric Brain Tumor Program is a partnership of Children's Hospital and the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. Vanderbilt-Ingram is one of an elite group of National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers and a member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. The Childhood Cancer Program is also part of the Children's Oncology Group (COG). These are organizations of premier pediatric cancer centers working with the most innovative new therapies being studied in early clinical trials for pediatric cancer.
At Vanderbilt, we are pioneering new techniques in treating brain tumors. We also recognize the long-term complications this disease can have on children and their families. That's why we use a comprehensive approach in our care. Our team includes a wide variety of specialists, including senior nurse coordinators, social workers, child life specialists, music therapists, school teachers, and psychologists.
The overall goal is for your child to receive care that will help him or her get back to a normal pattern of life as soon as possible. We provide ongoing support including follow-up visits with our team. Our hope is to prevent the return of the tumor and minimize the complications resulting from the tumor and treatment.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Brain tumors result from abnormal growth of tissue. Tumors can occur in a single spot in the brain or they can metastasize (spread throughout the brain and spine). The exact causes of brain and spinal cord tumors are largely unknown.
Regular visits to your pediatrician are the best way to identify potential problems, including cancer, in your child. The best tests to diagnose brain or spinal cord tumors are either a CAT or MRI scan. These scans are sensitive tools to look at the brain and spine and see if any abnormalities are present such as a tumor. If a tumor is found, your child will be referred to one of the specialists in our program.
Once a tumor has been found, the team of physicians, nurses, and other specialists working with your child will decide on a treatment plan and follow him or her throughout the course of this plan. Generally, the first step after finding the tumor is surgery to remove as much of the the tumor as possible. With the tissue that is removed, your physicians can make a final diagnosis based on the cell type of the tumor. With a final diagnosis, the team can recommend a specific treatment plan. Treatment plans can include additional surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. The plan will be developed based on the diagnosis, tumor location and age of the child.
To make an appointment or request more information, please call us at (615) 936-1762.
© 2014 Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt